Tomás Quinn, for starters, remains a class act, scoring a remarkable 3-5 in the annual Dubs Stars challenge despite being closer in age to 40 than 30.
Dublin’s impressive ability to grind out results in games that appear to be slipping away from them clearly hasn’t changed either.
Trailing with time almost up, Conor McHugh popped up with the match winning goal to rescue a game they looked like losing, for what that was worth in a pre-season friendly against the county’s best club players.
And true to form, the Dublin management team were typically guarded afterwards, playing their cards surprisingly close to their chests on the first day of January.
Jim Gavin, their back to back All-Ireland winning manager, was unavailable for media duties and ceded them to a member of his management team.
An hour or so later, however, Parnell Park was as empty as the waiting reporters’ dictaphones as a trail of dust was left by that same backroom team member’s car out the exit gates.
Dublin depart on a team holiday this week and it’s understood that Paul Clarke, a former Dublin player and selector, may step in on the management side of things for the Bord na Mona O’Byrne Cup.
Clarke was at yesterday’s game but declined an interview request when approached. It was a little bizarre and frankly unnecessary on what is supposed to be a tension free afternoon post Christmas.
Quinn, to his credit, stepped in to the breach to provide some form of official comment as a former Dublin star, albeit one lining out in the colours of the Dubs Stars.
There wasn’t a whole pile he could say, in truth, as an entirely experimental Dublin team in the absence of all its key performers who have been rested or are injured played out the friendly game in front of a couple of thousand.
Just three players from last summer’s Championship panel — Shane Clayton, Robbie McDaid and Colm Basquel — were in the line-up though we do know plenty of McHugh, even if he’s been deemed surplus to requirements in recent seasons.
McHugh kicked 2-4 from play and having been crowned the best player in the 2014 All-Ireland U21 championship, his time for regular senior involvement may finally be coming.
“It’s one of those tough ones for Conor,” said Quinn who played up front for over a decade for Dublin.
“You could name a couple of other younger guys too but then you look at the eight or nine forwards in the senior squad already.
“The competition for places that is there, especially in the inside line, is huge. You see the likes of Kevin McManamon, we’ve been talking about him for a number of years and how hard he has found it to establish himself, so that’s the level of talent you’re up against.
“Dean Rock was in a similar position, Con O’Callaghan is trying to come in now. So you just have a number of really high class guys there. Conor has been around the fringes and is an excellent player. But it’s probably the hardest line in the Dublin team to break into for the last couple of years and I think you can see that with the quality of guys who are operating on the fringes.”
The new ‘Mark’ rule came into operation yesterday following a period of trial and the first mark was claimed by Ryan Deegan, a little known Dublin rookie from the Thomas Davis club, who caught the ball from a kick-out in the 23rd minute and claimed his free-kick.
Quinn’s involvement in the game was somewhat surprising given that St Vincent’s will rely on him in the AIB All-Ireland club series next month but he said he simply loves playing games.
He was immense and fired home one early goal from a quick free before Dublin’s defence had reset. The Dubs Stars still trailed 2-7 to 1-2 at half-time and could have thrown in the towel but fought on and goals from Quinn and Darren Gavin put them in a winning position late on before McHugh struck.
C. McHugh (2-4), K. O’Gara (1-1), P. Hudson (0-4, 2 frees), N. Walsh (0-3), C. Reddin (0-1).
T. Quinn (3-5, 1-3 frees), D. Gavin (1-0), N. Coakley (0-3, 2 frees), G. Seaver (0-1).
E. Comerford; E. O’Brien, S. Clayton, R. McGowan; N. Scully, R. McDaid, C. Mullally; R. Deegan, C. Reddin; G. Sweeney, C. Basquel, N. Walsh; P. Hudson, K. O’Gara, C. McHugh.
S. Cunningham for Basquel 32, R. Hazely for McDaid 32, M. Deegan for O’Gara 35, R. Gaughan for Deegan 40, G. Ivory for Scully 40, S. Newcombe for Hudson 44, JB Carthy for Comerford 45.
M. Connolly; C. Wilson, G. Hannigan, T. Shiels; R. O’Brien, M. MacDonncha, B. Howard; D. Gavin, S. Boland; T. Lahiff, G. Seaver, P. Small; S. Smith, N. Coakley, T Quinn.
G. Carruth for Gavin 21, S. Blanchfield for Connolly 40, E. O’Toole for Smith 42, Gavin for Boland 43, D. Kerr for Seaver 44, Boland for Coakley 55, Seaver for Carruth 55.
D Sheppard (Lusk).